Q&A: Skinny Puppy Video Director Jason Alacrity talks “illisiT” clipBooks/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,News Chris Alexander
Influential horror-stained Industrial/electronic outfit Skinny Puppy pioneered the blending perverse performance art with abstract sonics smashed into dance-floor friendly structure. Throughout the 1980s right until present day, lyricist/frontman Nivek Ogre and aural architect cEvin Key have ensured that the visual component of SP mirrors the music, with a series of stage shows and video clips that are violent, sensual, surreal and often shocking.
SP’s latest album is the ballistic WEAPON and its first single, the nightmarish “illisiT.” Again, the clip supporting that track is an ideal realization. The work of musician/filmmaker Jason Alacrity, “illisiT” is the product of a friendship with the band stemming from mutual admiration. In honor of the current North American Skinny Puppy tour just launched, Fango opted to talk to Alacrity about his video, a fan-made-good story that’s practical and inspirational.
FANGORIA: Were you always a Skinny Puppy fan?
JASON ALACRITY: Absolutely, that’s why the video plays – in my opinion – as a love letter to the band.
I’ve been a hardcore fan since I first heard the EP, REMISSION, at the age of 17 in the middle of nowhere Sioux City, Iowa. We were smoking ditch-weed out of a steamroller and this punk rock girl put in the cassette and my mind was officially blown. In 1996 the only electronic music that ever made it to the midwest was of the weak techno variety, so Puppy was totally from another world. The only thing I had ever heard even close to that was perhaps Goblin and other horror movie soundtracks.
FANG: How about your love of film? What are some of your major influences?
ALACRITY: My major influences are varied. My three favorite movies have to be DAWN OF THE DEAD, ROBOCOP and GOODFELLAS. I really enjoy movies that have something to say, are well crafted, have a sense of humor, and are brutally violent at the same time. Stylistically and in terms of overall “look”, 70s films and European films in general always resonated heavily with me. The lighting and texture of that time period I feel is really special. SUSPIRIA and THE SHINING are some standout examples of lighting and feel.
FANG: How did you befriend the band?
ALACRITY: I befriended the band a few years back when a friend of mine was working on 2001 MANIACS: FIELD OF SCREAMS. It was surreal, since she was going to Iowa – my old haunt – to hang out with Ogre for three weeks. So I gave her my band “the Alacrity” CD and asked her to give it to him. He ended up digging it and offered to let me open for them at the first show on the “In Solvent See” Tour. When they got back to LA we met up and hit it off and became good friends. A few months later, at the show I met cEvin Cey backstage. The show was a surreal experience to say the least and went well. A year or so later I made a short film, ASTRID, stareing Ogre’s girlfriend Ashley that went on to win some awards at the Pollygrind festival in Vegas. Ogre really liked how the film turned out, and that started a dialog about a video for something off the new record WEAPON.
FANG: Were there difficulties agreeing on the concept behind the video?
ALACRITY: Yes initially there were, as there always are with these things. My original concept was a bit different. A wounded Ogre was to be chased thorough a warehouse by the Riot Cop, and while doing so he was supposed to pull out chunks of shrapnel from his body that eventually would be assembled into a weapon that he would then use to destroy the Riot Cop. Anyhow, Ogre didn’t care for that idea too much and thought it missed the point. He’s very clear about his ideas and the impact they can have on people. Where I, wanted the Antihero to violently resist and destroy the threat. Anyhow the idea evolved into tracking implants instead of shrapnel, and the phone/Riot Cop connection. He was also adamant on having an open ending, hence the two shadowy figures at the end. He hates happy endings, and that was just fine with me.
FANG: What is the concept, in your own words….
ALACRITY: The concept is heavily informed from the song, but in my own words I would have to say that the piece is a comment on how the victims of the self-imposed post 9/11 police state are now being bitten by their own snake. Seems as if now the only freedoms that exist any longer are when one can unplug. Live off the grid. Disappear. That seems to now have become a crime, like with bullshit “Stop and identify” laws.
FANG: How have fans responded to the vid?
ALACRITY: The fan response has been great. There was no small amount of fear on my end going into this thing that I had to meet a lot of peoples high and fucked-up expectations. Skinny Puppy fans can be a bit…intense. And I’m glad I gave them something most feel did the band justice and lives inside of their world. Even three weeks later I still get emails and Facebook comments saying how much folks enjoy it. But all the forum/social media comments I’ve read, my favorite still has to be “SAWING SKULLS! HARDEST OF CORES.”
For more, you can viewboth “illisiT” and ASTRID below and connect with Jason Alacrity on Facebook here.